Wisteria

by janeeatonhamilton

ClaraShandler

My wisteria takes my breath away. When I moved in, I thought I would haul it out by its friable roots and plant another, better one in its place—a darker one, a white one, one with longer recemes. Mine is just that common one you see around—W. sinensis. Blah, I thought.

But in the end, it was so magnificent that it made the mess of the rest of the fledgling garden that kept killing plants dead (alliums! O poppies! Delphs!) bearable.

Isn’t that the way? You think something’s going to be terrible, and it knocks you over with sweetness and flash. Or vice versa.

I thought today was a wasteland, even with all the sun, and then Clara Shandler, the Sidewalk Cellist, said, “Impromtu concert?” and I got to spend a luscious hour on unmown grass at King Ed and 25th soaking up her terrific-ness. Cello makes me soar; I lift bird-like—pumped, strong wings into cerulean sky.

I tried to clear my head while I listened, but it drifted into thought, and I ruminated about the fleshiness of our human condition, our bodies resilient and fragile. Able to take so much—or so little. The mystery of why one person sickens and another stays well. The mystery of the quick accident.

Because it was Mother’s Day, I thought of my mother, and my mother-in-law, and what missing the dead means, and I thought then about how motherhood positions women in the world. About step-mothering, or smom’ing—of my daughters.

I thought about women’s rights, and their lack.

I thought of my sister and her lost son, and the moms at Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Canuck Place who’d lost their babies. I thought about how they went forward.

Role models. Women to look up to.

There was so much sky up there, so much atmosphere, so much vacuum, so much science.

But right down here, just feet in front of me, was Clara’s music. At home was wisteria, ten feet of it dripping. Right here, right now, there was redoubtable human spirit. Thanks, women-in-my-life, for all you’ve generously given me.   Hope, determination, examples, willing ears, strength, passion, incisive brains, character, depth, ready love.

You are the best.

wisteria